Budget Tips for Savvy Business Travelers

Updated on April 3, 2018
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Sally Hayes loves traveling for work and pleasure. She likes to maximize her travel budget while making the most of each day of her trip.

Saving money on business travel is easy when you plan ahead. If you're an entrepreneur, consultant, or small business owner, check out these tips on how to cut down on the cost of your next business trip without sacrificing comfort and convenience.

Here are a handful of helpful tips on how to avoid overpaying for things such as baggage handling fees, accommodations, and restaurant meals and snacks.

An early dinner or a filling late lunch can be less expensive than a restaurant meal during the dinner rush hour.
An early dinner or a filling late lunch can be less expensive than a restaurant meal during the dinner rush hour. | Source

Shop without dropping a ton off cash on expensive souvenirs and restaurant meals

When dining out, have an early dinner. You’ll get a table sooner and enjoy more attentive service than if you were eating during the premium dinner hours between 6:30 pm and 8:00 pm. Here’s why: When restaurants know their tables are in demand during the dinner rush hour, they want to either flip your table as quickly as possible or they’ll try to up-sell you on more appies, more drinks, more desserts. If you are going to take up prime dining real estate, they’ll try to find a way to make you pay for it.

Think twice before using coupons from hotel brochures and travel guides. The coupons featured in those free travel magazines displayed in the hotel lobby aren’t always a good deal. The businesses that have coupons in those travel guides have paid a fee (usually a hefty one) to advertise their restaurant and bring in tourists who are lost when it comes to finding a good place to eat. Instead, pick up local community paper and clip coupons for restaurants that are favored by the locals. The service will likely be much better because they don’t know whether or not you are a tourist or a local. And giving lousy service to someone who lives close by is always bad for business.

Make a souvenir shopping budget and stick to it. Have a list of co-workers or special clients people you want to buy gifts for and set a maximum dollar value for each gift. This will help you avoid impulse buys. If you really want to simplify your souvenir shopping, buy gifts in bulk. For example, many gift shops in Hawaii offer multi-packs of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. One simple purchase and you’ve covered everyone on your list!

Taking public transit to and from the airport while on a business trip can save money over the cost of taking a cab.
Taking public transit to and from the airport while on a business trip can save money over the cost of taking a cab. | Source

Save money and stay safe by planning for emergencies

Research weather trends at your destination and pack accordingly. If you don’t plan ahead and figure out what kind of clothes you’ll need at your destination, you might end up having to spend some of your travel money buying a jacket to keep you warm, or sandals and shorts to keep you cool.

Buy adequate travel insurance before you leave. Any money that you save on food, hotels, and attractions will be wiped out if you get sick or injured and end up in a local hospital without adequate travel insurance. Buying sufficient medical and travel insurance is a must!

Give your car a thorough tune-up and top-up before heading out on a business road trip. If you plan to save money on your next out-of-town business event by driving instead of flying, make sure that your car is in good condition before you leave. A breakdown, or worse, an accident caused by a mechanical failure can cost you triple, even quadruple, whatever money you saved by driving instead of flying. Also, if you plan to take your car to another country, be sure to consult an auto insurance broker before you go to make sure your policy provides sufficient coverage away from home. Buying a bit of add-on insurance to cover you is much cheaper than being wiped out by an accident your policy doesn’t cover.

Keep your car in tip-top shape and now in advance what kind of road conditions to expect. Getting trapped in a snow bank and having to be towed out is scary, stressful, and expensive!
Keep your car in tip-top shape and now in advance what kind of road conditions to expect. Getting trapped in a snow bank and having to be towed out is scary, stressful, and expensive! | Source

Rest easy knowing that you can find a cozy place to stay at a great rate

Be flexible when it comes to choosing your travel accommodations. One way to save money while traveling is to choose both modest and budget accommodations for your overnight stays. For example, if you are doing a multi-city tour or going on a road trip, stay in a budget-type motel every other night. Then switch to a moderate (semi-fancy) hotel every other night. And if it turns out that budget motels are just too threadbare for you, you only have to make it through one night before moving on to a fancy-pants hotel.

Check group room rates against regular room rates. You might be surprised that the group rate isn't necessarily the best rate. If you are heading off to a conference or business event where a discounted group rate has been arranged for conference attendees, by all means, go ahead and make your reservation early so that you don't miss out on a room. But keep your eye on the rates offered at that same hotel by various online sources. If you end up getting a cheaper, off the rack rate from the same hotel, you should be able to cancel your pricier reservation as long as it's within the cancellation period. (Always read the fine print.)

Consider staying in an adjacent hotel. If you don't mind taking a short stroll to your conference event every day, a neighboring hotel might be a less expensive option to staying at the on-site hotel. Just keep in mind that you might miss some of the after-hours mingling that takes place at the conference hotel, but if you're an introvert who likes to go to be early, no problem!

Short-term rentals and BnB's are great options for business travelers who don't need extra amenities. When you don't have to pay for a hotel's overhead costs (housekeeping, staffing, pool maintenance), you can save hundreds of dollars by opting to stay in a cozy bed and breakfast suite in someone's home.

A suite rented through a short-term rental app such as AirBnB could offer more space at a cheaper price.
A suite rented through a short-term rental app such as AirBnB could offer more space at a cheaper price. | Source

Keep your receipts for everything. Saving money doesn't end when you get home. make sure that you submit all eligible out of pocket expenses to your employer for reimbursement. If you are self-employed or work on contract, you may be able to deduct some of your expenses. Keep detailed receipts and check with your accountant.

Avoid paying extra baggage handling fees by packing lightly. Some airlines charge extra money to check your luggage. Carry-on luggage is usually free, and you'd be surprised at how much you can fit into your bag. If you and your partner limited yourself to one carry-on bag and one purse or briefcase each, you could save as much as $40.00 - $50.00.

Home at last!
Home at last! | Source

© 2018 Sally Hayes

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